Score: Penguins 3, Sabres 2 (OT)
Shots: BUF: 21 PIT: 48
Buffalo Sabres: Goals: Zemgus Girgensons (1), Rasmus Dahlin (1)
Piitsburgh Penguins: Goals: Evan Rodrigues (1), Brock McGinn (1), Jeff Carter (1)
Plus 1: Sabres Come Back From a 2-0 Deficit to Force an OT
The Pittsburgh Penguins scored first, with an Evan Rodrigues power play goal 5:53 into the first period. Buffalo couldn’t answer back during that period, and after the Sabres killed off two penalties in the second, Brock McGinn scored again to put the Sabres in a 2-0 hole. Buffalo’s offense didn’t give up and with 7:25 left in the period, Zemgus Girgensons halved the deficit with a wrist shot to make it 2-1 Pittsburgh.
The Sabres battled back during the 3rd period, but with the minutes ticking down, it looked the team would go home without any points. Then, with 5:18 left in regulation, Rasmus Dahlin tied the game with a goal assisted by Asplund and Okposo.
Plus 2: Subban Steps Up to Keep Buffalo in the Game
Malcolm Subban stopped 45 of 48 shots during the game. The goalie had only his second start in a Sabres jersey. Subban played exceptionally well, not giving up rebounds and making great saves, including an acrobatic attempt to keep the puck from crossing the goal line:
— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) December 18, 2021
What a save by Malcolm Subban... pic.twitter.com/9vWorCHPCa
Plus 3: Thompson Gets Tough, Fitz Uses His Fists
When Penguins forward Zach-Aston Reese put a dirty hit on Jacob Bryson in the first period, Tage Thompson got in Reese’s face and threw some punches. Thompson stood up for his teammate and showed the Pens they couldn’t push the Sabres around. The crowd loved it, and in the second period, when Sam Lafferty slashed Vinnie Hinostroza, Casey Fitzgerald went after Lafferty and the two got into some fisticuffs. The Sabres are showing they’re willing to defend each other, something that comes in handy against a team like the Penguins, who too often get away with cheap shots.
Minus 1: Sabres Power Play Continues to Sputter
Cujo Suda had the Comment of the Game: “sabres PP always a brutal spectacle.” The Sabres had three power play opportunities, including a Jeff Carter tripping penalty during the waning seconds of the third period that bled into OT. Buffalo could not capitalize on any of them. The missed opportunity to score in overtime and clinch a three-game victory was bitter to witness. Watching Cater get a breakaway and score the game winning goal made matters even worse.
Buffalo frequently fails to control the puck, score, or stop their opponents from getting breakaways with the man advantage. This is a glaring weakness Don Granato and the offense need to fix to help make the Sabres a consistent winning franchise.
Minus 2: Refs Help the Pens Out
During the 1st period, the refs gave Tage Thompson two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct, while Zach Aston-Reese got no penalty for boarding Jacob Bryson. The officials tried to do a make up with a Dominik Simon tripping penalty two minutes later. Tripping should be a call, but why do referees give Penguins players a pass? Crosby wasn’t penalized for throwing Washington Capitals defenseman Martin Fehervary into the boards last month and now Reese gets off scot free against Bryson. The NHL’s favoritism toward certain teams and players is, in itself, unsportsmanlike and unprofessional.
The Sabres have shown a level of toughness in the last few games, and they head home getting five out of six points on the road. They’re finally playing 60 minutes much more consistently. However, the team’s weak power play effort and at times, sloppy puck control are still costing them points and games.
The Buffalo Sabres next take on the Columbus Blue Jackets in a home and home series, with a game at the KeyBank Center on 12/20 at 7pm and then away on 12/23 at 7pm.